In this collection of essays, I'm discussing what happened, in our online discussions and a few in-person meetings, up until late April. At that point, I got asked by Mitchell Baker (the chair of Mozilla) to leave a discussion. My understanding of what happened was that I was being told that by saying I felt like I was being treated as less than equal, I was hurting the community. I felt that the best thing for me to do if I couldn't speak freely about how I felt about how I was being treated was to leave the discussions. Before that, I was also beginning to feel that following the discussions was unacceptably emotionally draining for me anyway. So, it's possible that I missed out on important parts of the discussions. Nevertheless, I still have plenty to say about the portion of the discussion that I was part of.

I wrote most of this article before Mozilla released the new community participation guidelines, but nevertheless, I think that everything I talk about in this essay is still relevant. Guidelines can't instantly change culture; people have to change. Moreover, without significant personal change on the part of a significant number of individuals, it's unclear as to how such guidelines can be enforced.

Not everyone will agree with this essay. I'm sure that even many people who are close to me will find things in it to disagree with. That's okay. I'm not writing to persuade. Because I'm not writing to persuade, telling me that my tone is too hostile or that I would win over more allies if I wasn't so threatening is unnecessary. I'm not writing to win allies, and I get to decide what tone I want to use.

This is a long essay; if you read all the sections together, it's the length of a short book, somewhere around 41,000 words at my last count. Something that people often say when asked to think more about their biases is "if you don't educate me, how can I learn?" This is not the question it superficially appears to be: rather, it's a speech act that shifts responsibility for treating somebody equally from the oppressor to the oppressed (implying that oppression is the oppressed person's fault because they didn't teach the oppressor how not to be oppressive).

(If you find "oppressor" and "oppressed" to be strong words to use about interaction between people who are apparently equals, please read about why I use those words.)

Regardless, this collection of essays is my attempt to educate all of the people who ask to be educated, or who say that they just didn't know how to be respectful, so how could anyone have expected them to be respectful? You don't have to read it, but please, if you don't, don't say that nobody tried to educate you.

Why am I writing this?

But I'm not writing to persuade. If you disagree with me about facts, then we can have a conversation if you'd like. If you disagree with me about whether I've lived the experiences that I've lived, then I can't stop you from saying so. But in that case, I'm not going to engage with you about it. I have no interest in persuading anyone that I am human and real and have subjective experiences. I'm not interested because I know I can't do it, and I'd rather do something that I can achieve.

I'm also not writing this essay in order to advocate any single course of action about the problems I'm describing, because I don't have such a prescription. I'm writing it to reflect. If it makes you reflect too, then great; maybe you'll have more tools with which to think about what you are going to do to make things better (because it doesn't get better on its own) -- within Mozilla, if you're a Mozillan, or in your own communities, if you're not.

In social justice communities, it's customary to use trigger warnings -- abbreviated "TW:" -- for content that may cause some people to have an extremely strong and persistent emotional reaction. This entire essay may be triggering for its descriptions of emotional abuse and manipulation, as well as anti-queer rhetoric and apologism for such. In addition, I've tried to mark content that I think might cause a particularly negative reaction for some people with "Content note", a variant on "TW" that can warn for less intense reactions as well.

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Last modified: Mon Sep 3 23:06:39 PDT 2012